In the Deep

July 2022

Underwater Adventures in Florida

By Kellilyn Hann, Visit Florida

Florida has more than 65,000 square miles of water and shorelines, so why not dive in and see the world from a different angle?

From freshwater springs to the crystal-clear waters of the Keys, here are some exciting underwater adventures for divers and non-divers.

Walk Underwater

Want to see fish up close but you’re not into open-water snorkeling? Discovery Cove in Orlando has a solution. With the SeaVenture experience, you just slip on a wetsuit and dive helmet, step into the aquarium and walk among schools of fish. A trainer will take you on a tour where you can touch and feed all sorts of marine life.

Go Scalloping

Florida’s Gulf Coast between New Port Richie and Port St. Joe is blessed with warm, shallow waters. This means sea grass, which means scallops — and you can catch some for dinner. Legal to harvest from July to September, all you need is snorkel gear, a mesh bag, and a saltwater fishing license. If you go with a tour company, they’ll provide all that for you. Try Swift Fish Charters, Bird’s Underwater Dive Center, or Homosassa Scalloping Charters.

For the Little Ones

Disney creates magic, so yes, little kids can have an underwater experience without getting wet! At Disney World, go to Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid, where you’ll ride through a tunnel full of wonderful animation and sculptures. At EPCOT head to The Seas with Nemo & Friends for a similar magical experience.

Swim With Alligators

You’re under the water. So is a 10-foot alligator, literally inches away. Luckily, “Crocodile Chris” is also in the water with you, and you’re behind a hardly-visible-but-still- there mesh net. The Underwater Alligator Experience in Homestead is the best way to view these amazing creatures up close without putting yourself in danger, so if you love gators (and you’re 18 or older), definitely add this to your bucket list.

For Certified Divers

Now you can do more than observe gorgeous coral reefs — you can help protect them. If you’re going to be in Key Largo for at least three weeks, the Coral Reef Foundation offers voluntourism opportunities for divers to join scientists in planting coral, monitoring reef health, and removing harmful debris.